We used to often hear stories from our grandparents and parents about their good old days. They would often narrate to us parables of their everyday life which included lots of hard work and, in turn, good health. With limited resources and no modern equipment, they were very self-sufficient and independent. With no fertilizers or chemicals used in plantation, they used to directly pluck a fruit from a tree and enjoy it. The children used to play in mud almost all day and would then hurriedly dunk their hands in water for a few seconds before rushing to eat.
The present scenario is a complete contrast to the good old days. People are advised to follow the utmost care and hygiene in all possible ways. Washing the hands often, sanitization of frequently used surfaces, thoroughly washing fruits, vegetables, and other commodities before using, etc. has become the norm. Social distancing and stepping out of home only when required has become the new norm. Hand sanitizer has gained popularity and importance in present times. Let’s know more about them.
6 Surprising Facts about Hand Sanitizers
What are hand sanitizers?
Hand sanitizer is a liquid, gel, or foam used to decrease infectious agents on the hand. They are alcohol-based and contain at least 60% ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Most of these hand sanitizers are harmless if used in the correct way. They are good at preventing bacterial and viral infections. Nowadays most of the places such as hospitals, restaurants, banks, malls, shops, etc. store them in bulk and they also have a proper safety mechanism. They are used primarily in an outdoor condition where soap and water are not easily available.
Sometimes alcohol-based hand sanitizer may not be effective if the hands are greasy or visibly soiled. In hospitals, the hands of health care workers are often contaminated with a pathogen. Hence for them using hand sanitizers is highly effective and safe. However, in a community setting, on the other hand, grease and soiling are common due to day to day activities. Hence alcohol-based sanitizer may not be effective in such cases as compared to washing the hand with soap and water.
How do we use hand sanitizer?
Apply the product in the palm of one hand. Rub hands together so that the product spreads over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry. Do not go near a flame or a gas burner or any burning object during or immediately after the application of hand sanitizer as it may catch fire.
It is very essential for everyone to maintain overall cleanliness and personal hygiene. A healthy diet combined with exercise and adequate sleep ensures good immunity of a person. Frequently cutting our nails and avoiding touching the face go a long way in preventing any kind of infection. FDA reminds the public to wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom before and after eating, after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.
If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the public to use an alcohol-based sanitizer. FDA remains vigilant and continues to monitor quality issues arising with different hand sanitizers available in the market.
Different types of hand sanitizers
Depending on the active ingredients used, hand sanitizers can be classified as two types – alcohol-based or alcohol-free. They come in the form of foam, gel or liquid. In the classroom hand hygiene program, it has been seen that alcohol-free sanitizers are preferred whereas in hospitals and health care clinics alcohol-based hand sanitizers are preferred. Nowadays oil-based hand sanitizers are also available. They contain essential oils that leave the hand soft after use.
Dr. Subramanian. S is a family physician since 1979 practising in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He regularly attends to patients in the morning and evening. He reiterates the fact that most of the hand sanitizers are harmless. They do not have any harmful effects on the skin if used moderately. Dr. Subramanianhas been using them in the past and more so in the present because of the current pandemic situation.
Dr. Subramanian uses them about 4 to 5 times in OPD and has found them to be good. He advises not to come in contact with fire immediately after applying the sanitizer. In a few minutes, the alcohol evaporates thus causing a fire is impossible. He advises using a hand sanitizer with a moisturizer added to it or, we may use any moisturizer once or twice a day.
To conclude hand sanitizers are primarily used in outdoor conditions where soap and water are not easily available. Indoors and wherever possible washing the hands with soap and water is advocated.